Fleeting memoires and one’s I wish I had…

Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Rick and Karl (the dog)

Image taken by my grandfather Andersen along the Wisconsin River in 1968. My first memories of the Dells are fuzzy and I am never quite sure which is a memory and which is a memory addition. Over time you combine memories and add things you wish happened to the original memory creating the memory addition. I remember a huge house, but I know having gone back to see the house many years later it wasn’t that big. I was small. So my memories early of Wisconsin Dells are of a big house with a porch and the basement. In the basement there were pictures (one of them exists today and is in Nick’s room of my grandfather in the Infantry around the time of WWI).  I think there was a saddle and saddle bags. I know the saddle bags existed I have those. I may have added the saddle. Truly I have very fleeting memories of a man that the family history project revealed was around and in my life considerably when I was little. There are 50 pictures of my grandfather Andersen and I together but I have so few memories. I have a warm feeling when I see his picture. A joy knowing that he was there but now a sadness because I have no framework around that.


My father’s oldest sister, Barbara, taught my father and my grandfather about photography. Dad loved taking pictures because of his sister (yes we have many generations of Barbara in our family.) I think now, thinking about it, mom shared with me that my Aunt Barbara taught dad and grandpa, its they both loved photos so much. They loved Barbara. She was taken from us far too young. My only memory fragment of her is sick in bed, later I would connect the dots and realize that she died very soon after my memory fragment. I can’t her life with her death because I didn’t know her that well. But father loved his sister. He had three sisters. My Aunt Dorothy, who dad really didn’t get along with for many years. My Aunt Patty, who was and is a dear part of my life. She is incredibly funny and helped me out when I was starting out as a school teacher. Finally my Aunt Barbara. I know from the memory fragment that I met her at least once. But that’s is all I have on that one.


My all time favorite picture was taken by my grandfather Andersen. It is a picture near in fact this very beach on the Wisconsin River in the Dells. Near this very sand. Just in fact a little to right of this picture. It is picture of me as a small child and my father. It was taken with love. It shows the love of a father for a son. Of a son for a father. Perhaps it even explains my great love of water. It was a moment when my grandfather andersen was around. But I have no memories of that photo. Other than seeing it and knowing it was taken by my grandfather of me and my father. Three generation of Andersen males one taking two standing. All of us bound by the middle initial O in our names (Oliver, Oliver, O for me). My middle initial is O, my name is not Oliver so we shall leave it at that. I remember the slip and slide we had in the front yard at Sycamore Knolls. Sliding down the front yard for hours until dad came home and saw we were ruining his grass and made us put it away. It was only allowed out occasionally after that to avoid permanent lawn damage. I remember my room and spilling paint all over the floor. I remember making spaghetti with mom. A mess all over the kitchen. I remember fighting with dad about the stupidest things. But I cannot remember the man who was there, clearly there in so many pictures, other than fragments. Tiny memories of someone who matters to me.

It isn’t enough.

All these pictures and I have many more, were taken by Henry Oliver Andersen. Mason, Veteran, Father, Grandfather, Cobbler.


Family Historian

On pools and big cities, moving away from Bloomington Indiana


I have to say the one great thing about our neighborhood is that we have a great neighborhood pool. Great because I don’t have to spend the last three weekends of may getting the pool ready for the years. We built two pools (I know didn’t learn the first time). Our first pool was smaller in Cincinnati Ohio. We then went a little bigger after we moved to Greenwood. Since moving to Maryland we’ve lived in neighborhoods with pools and it makes all the difference. Unlike Indiana though, few neighborhoods here have basketball courts. They all have tennis courts and pools but no basketball courts. Even the sport complex (The Soccer Plex) that is a massive sports facility with 20 soccer fields (Cricket, a water park, and indoor tennis and indoor/outdoor swimming) doesn’t have basketball courts. I find that such a change from Indiana where every barn had a hoop (or so it felt like to me).


These two pictures slightly different including the new fountain we tried in 2010. I think over the years we tried 4 different ones. Each of them was interesting but effectiveness was always the problem. Like I said I do not miss pool maintenance. Having a large backyard I don’t miss either. Someone has to mow it. Our yard is small and with the new patio there isn’t much yard left, just enough for the dogs to run around in. It is a very different world in the ‘burbs of a big city. When you live near a medium to large city things are much different overall. I remember complaining about traffic that delayed me an hour. It felt like forever when that happened driving around Indianapolis. Now there are days I wish it were only an hour. I guess as you move around your perspective and expectations change.


My crew. I am so proud of all of them. On the far left my dog walking superstar Jakki. Then we have the amazing Lucas! Next to Lucas is the equally amazing Nick! And finally, the now fully licensed Maryland Social Worker, and my partner for the last 25 years Barb. This image taken on our family vacation to Indiana Dunes in 2010. Barb loves beaches so we have often vacationed near the water (now we get to vacation on the water). This trip ended up being our last summer vacation in Indiana. The next summer time we spent in Indiana wasn’t vacation. Both Barb and I grew up in Bloomington Indiana. We both loved growing up in that wonderful little university town, but we both longed to be somewhere else. Barb left Bloomington (she was born there) when she was 19 and moved to Arizona for a year. I was born in Chicago and missed being near a big city the entire time I was in Bloomington. I didn’t realize I missed the hustle and bustle of the city until we moved to Cincinnati Ohio. Bloomington is a unique experience. I love going back to see my sister and mother who still live there. But it is now going back. I was born in a big city. To me its where I belong.


City boy…

A visit to King’s Island and memories of happy and sad events…


This crew loves amusement parks. I have to be honest when I was thinner I loved them, when I was heavier not as much. So this summer we will have to see which camp I end up in. The roller coasters kill my back so I think my favorite ride now is the park bench in front waiting for the rest of the crew. This from outside King’s Island in 2009. We went back 10 years after leaving Cincinnati for a family outing. We used to go to King’s Island 4 or 5 times a year when we live in Cincinnati. Barb is a roller coaster addict. I think she has ridden about every major roller coaster in the Midwest. This spring is a number of anniversaries that are coming (a couple have already passed). The first is the anniversary of Fran’s passing (our Lab) The three big ones coming up are June 1, the day 25 years ago that Barb and I moved away from our Childhood’s and haven’t looked back as we moved to Cincinnati Ohio. The next one is a lot harder and is the passing of my father in early June. Finally June 15 is the anniversary of 25 years of marriage.


I don’t mean to sound wistful and sad. Its just that over time you collect a number of good and bad memories about time periods. Memories that stay with you until you wrap them up and make them part of who you are. You can’t move past anger without accepting that no matter how angry you are  about something it wasn’t the other person’s fault. You are partially responsible and need to be accountable. The same is true for the sad memories that float around you. You have to own them. To stop on the anniversary of the sad memory and recall happy things about that event or person. My father taught me how to read. My dad taught me how to throw a baseball. My grandfather taught me about boats and how to golf. Fran was there protecting her girl when I couldn’t be there. She protected the whole family when I couldn’t be there.


Nick and I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower at King’s Island an.took pictures from up on top.





We lived off in that not to far distance at our last apartment in Cincinnati Ohio. We (Barb and I) started out with Becca in a Townhouse in Fairfield. When Jakki was on the way we moved to a two bedroom apartment in Maineville Ohio (just South of King’s Island) and then after Jakki arrived, Becca, Jakki, Barb and I moved to our hosue on Shafer Avenue. in Western Hills. My grandfather came and spent a week with us at that house. Our last house in Cincinnati Ohio was WillowCove, which was in Mt. Airy. The last move in Cincinnati was the first entire family move with Barb, Becca, Jakki, Nick, Luke and Gwen all moving at once. Seems like only yesterday that all of us were together.


Family Historian

To be on the water, and why not to give 12 year olds a camera….


Water, it is the one thing I love. Images of lighthouses, or boats or just water. The sun gently setting onto the water. Settling in for a night of tree frogs and the gentle swaying of the boat. When I was very little I didn’t sleep well, except when my grandfather tooled around the lake in the boat. Then I slept. I think my poor mother was frazzled by the end of my childhood. I was a handful. But water was always my love. When we lived in Thailand we visited the beach. I have pictures of those beaches. Memories of playing in the water for hours. Of building in the sand and of being in and around the water. Memories of fresh crab and the delight that was fresh fish. I learned in Thailand as my parents said I would, that I actually liked fish. I just fish that is fresh from the ocean. Moving to Maryland has reminded me of how much I love fish. I can’t wait to head out early into he morning and go fishing again on the boat.


The kids love/d playing with the settings of the Olympus Camera. I still have one, because it is the most versatile camera I have ever owned. It allows you to be creative, but you can also dropt he camera, go underwater with it (to 40 feet) or even a case and go 350 feet underwater with it. It takes reasonably good pictures, not as good as my canon and significantly better than any of the phones currently in the house. Its not the number of megapixels but the quality of the lens that matters when taking pictures. It does a good job with video as well. Frankly I wish I had when I was learning to take pictures, a digital camera. I would have taken thousands of pictures (I have – take more than 80,000 pictures since getting my first digital camera in 1993). I imaging all the moment I would have missed hiding behind the camera so maybe not, but it would be nice to capture some of those lost moments. It is funny, because my kids grew up digital cameras and other my daughter Jakki, the boys avoid taking pictures. Oh well.


Max is my mother’s cat. Here sitting on the table of the screen in porch of their house on Kinser pike. We had many a wonderful conversation around that table when the bugs made actually going two feet further and being outside a little risky. <p, mad dad ;lived in that hours for around 20 years. There are a lot of photo memories from that house. Max is still around he moved with mom to the new house. Max is a cat that is used to living with dogs. He however retreated to the highest place he could be in while Raven was around. Raven probably would have gotten her nose scratched but she looks fierce. She is if she doesn’t know you, but once she knows who you are she is a fantastic dog. She has been with us for two years now. Dylan will be with us the first week of June for 4 years. Sadly the first of June is also when my father passed two years ago. So that becomes a bittersweet memory. Happy that Dylan joined us, said that Dad left us.


Family Historian

Alone together…

Swirling around me

An ebb and flow

Rising and falling

But always low tide

Quiet but loud

Silent but deafening

Each sound a

Single drop of water

In a sea

Lost but critical

Not seen but heard

Dripping into the moment

Into the expanding sea

And deafening

As if

Sound was its ally

Its camouflage

In which to hide

But yet

In the open

Never hiding.

I am the moment

I am the sound

The hustle



Water falling

Last ones seeing


But deafening

Why so loud

In that moment

You don’t wonder

But you worry

Can it be

Will we in



In finding


And in losing


By the sound of

A single drip

Into a sea

An ocean.

sustained by a billion drops


but bonded

one but many


but in the loud noise

in the deafening sound



Sandler Boggs

Mother’s day 2009 and well a different day….


From mom and dad’s house on North Kinser pike in Bloomington Indiana. A great example of buying a house that was perfect and than making all the changes to make it more perfect. An Andersen family tradition. Or maybe a Johnston family tradition since my grandfather and my great grandfather built the lake house (and the lake cottage). Make that cottages in fact as well as a bath house. The lake cottage was on top the hill and had beautiful stone walls. The basement was made entirely of the stone and had cool nooks and crannies. I remember going in there because there were things stored in that basement. The cottage part was rented out after my great grandfather and great grand step-mother died.


Mother’s day 2009, we would gather on the back porch of mom and dad’s house and celebrate all the mother’s in our family (we have quite a few – four in fact)! This picture includes my sister Lynne and her son Matthew. Matt is an impressive young man. He is living in Seattle Washington now. Very smart and very capable young man. Its funny when this picture was taken, I was traveling all over the world for weeks at a time. Just like dad had traveled when I was little. But now my sister is the one traveling all over the US. Funny how that works out. My longest trip is 160 minutes from Germantown to downtown DC. (its more of a waiting for traffic to clear issue than it is a distance issue).


Dad, mother day 2009. Dad would man the grill and prepare the mother’s day grill fest. He would also make the best salsa ever. It was a tradition to have something grilled. Be it beef roast or brats (a Wisconsin tradition) we would have something from the grill on warmer days. I guess that was the holiday tradition for a long time. It is a little harder now with people in Washington DC, Washington State and Texas for all of us to get together. So we are down to the big holiday’s now (Christmas).



Family Historian

Launching Rockets and Ralstin family gatherings…

IMG_3480.Andersen Mission Control. We were off by 230 yards (we cleared the school) and off by 3 degrees. Add those together and it took us awhile to find the rocket. Still it was a fun project and the boys had a blast.

Science is a great tool to open the minds of young students. It speaks to their natural curiosity of the world around them. Young children have a natural desire to understand what makes things happen. Science is a great tool to arm them with so that as they grow up they can quickly figure ways to solve problems. Model Rocketry also teaches math and allows you to integrate engineering and art. Finally the launch process incorporates great communications. If we hadn’t talked while we were searching we might still be searching for our rocket. (CSTEAM!!!!!)


Ralstin family gathering in 2001. There were many more Ralstin than Andersen’s by a large factor. The family used to get together in Martinsville Indiana. (Or in Green Bay area of Wisconsin) Barb has gone to quite a few of them over the years. I missed a couple due to work but went to everyone one I could. Can I remember the names of the 40 or so kids I met in a very short time period, no. I do remember the cousins Barb talks about all the time though. I don’t always get the names straight but I know who is related to whom. I guess sometimes that is the first half the battle. Knowing the family tree to a degree. Funny how family history ends up reminding us to remember those we grew up around.


There is an entire folder in the old Ralstin pictures that Barb took of the boys and Jakki making faces. This one is of Lukey. I have no idea what this face should be for or why anyone would make a face like this. If you saw someone with this face on the subway you would either walk over and pat them on the shoulder saying there, there or you would run. Would you ever make this face?

Luke will, this isn’t the Lukey face of yore, that one is one I’ve shared before. This is a goofy face that is to represent something but who knows what that something is.

I would ask Luke but I am afraid of what the answer really is.


Family Historian and facial puzzler…`